Thursday, November 15, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, I persuaded Amy to come with me to what is vaunted as Asia's Biggest Jazz Festival, 'Jazzmandu' ( Tickets were an outrageous 950Rp each (about £7.50) and we took the bus and then electric tuk-tuk into Kathmandu, hoping to find the venue. The concert took place at the Shangri-La, which must be one of the poshest hotels in the valley and once again I had the feeling of completely leaving behind Nepal as I strode through the posh lobby and even felt a little bit under-dressed....

We got there with enough time to grab a drink then settled in for the performance. It started slightly late of course, and was cursed by a couple of power cuts (a regular feature in Nepal) but thankfully, or by good backup arrangements, these only happened in the intervals.

First up was an all-female percussion group from Nepal, which did a great job of representing diversity but soon the acts started getting better, and better, and better.

We had a really chilled out group from Norway which Amy particularly liked, especially their inclusion of a couple of Nepalese artists - a singer and a sitar player! Giving quite a cool, fusion sound. After them was the band which had given Jazzmandu the impetus for starting, 10 years ago. They were called Cadenza, heralding from the Kathmandu Valley, and were really great fun - a funky, upbeat sound in some cool time signatures. I liked these guys a lot.


The highlight of the evening, though, was NoJazz from France who were playing such a funky, modern sound that by this point in the evening, no-one was left in their chairs and we were all soon raving at the front. This was topped with the most amazing sax solo I have ever heard, and the 45 minutes of their set just flew by. What a group!

 I checked out some of their music online, maybe you should too?
They finished the set with an awesome crescendo and announced (in their awesome French accents, I loved the way they pronounced Quat-mon-dooo) that they would be playing a couple of days later in Durbar Square in the centre of the city. I filed that away for future reference...

The band after this, unfortunately, had no chance of competing so Amy and I took that cue to head off back towards Lokanthali after an amazing 3.5 hours of jazz, a bit of wine and some tasty momos for dinner. What an evening - and so nice to see some proper music out here, Kathmandu attracting some of the best talent from around the globe.

It was had also been a chance to bump into some previous acquaintances - I met an Israeli girl who I'd immigrated with in the airport and a Londoner who had been on the same coach as Alfie and me back from Pokhara. He hadn't met us, but I remembered him, for he pulled an amazing move and ended up in the front cab along with 2 very attractive German girls, and I watched with jealousy as they ended up sleeping leant against him. Well played, my friend!

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